Elsa ★★★★ 1/2 HollyShorts Film Festival

Elsa ★★★★ 1/2 HollyShorts Film Festival

Cameron S. Mitchell’s documentary Elsa perfectly captures a woman who will not be defined and forces you to take her seriously. Elsa engrosses and becomes a shot in the arm to make representation in the world fairer. 

Director: Cameron S. Mitchell

Elsa Sjunneson is a DeafBlind professor, media critic, skilled fencer and hiker, and published author. She has written for Marvel Comics and twice won the Hugo Science Fiction award. Through the pen and the sword, Elsa takes us on a journey to see the world from a perspective that has never been seen before.

When Elsa Sjunneson was born and her DeafBlind condition was diagnosed, her parents were instructed to send her away to an institution and try again for another child by a doctor. Her parents declined that instruction, and as a result, the wonderful person we see on the screen flourished. For doctors to even suggest such a thing now seems unimaginable, and thank goodness her parents said no.

Cameron S. Mitchell gets through an awful lot within a mere eight minutes. We learn about not only Elsa’s childhood but the struggles her father went through while living with AIDS. Then about her own career and how she became as successful as she has become. She has gotten so far in life, yet you see how she is still alone, venturing where very few have. She is the beacon for removing ableism from our world, and despite having to fight even through social media posts, she is resolute in her aims. 

This makes Elsa an utterly fascinating watch and simultaneously becomes a call out for those with disabilities to not accept where others have placed them. As Elsa says, no DeafBlind person is the same; they are their own person and should be treated as such. We as a society try to fit disabled people into the same box when they, like everyone in the world, are different. Instead, they should stretch out and be what they think they can be and achieve what they think they can. The worst thing they can do is try; why let those who do not know them limit their lives? Elsa didn’t let her challenges and those who challenged her hold her back, nor should she.

While this is merely a glimpse into the world of Sjunneson, you are left itching to discover more about her. There needs to be a longer piece about her as Elsa is someone you could spend a long time listening to. Mitchell shows us how valuable a story Elsa is for us to learn about. As she leads the way for disability rights, we can only hope that her work continues to vastly improve representation in media. An essential film in the fight against ableism.

★★★★ 1/2

The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year August 11-20, 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. 

The most recent edition of HollyShorts had six selections nominated for Academy Awards this year with two wins for Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed’s The Long Goodbye and Ben Proudfoot’s Queen of Basketball.

HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, and stream via Bitpix TV,  with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20, 2022. 

For tickets to the festival please click here.

For more of our reviews of the festival, please check out below:


North Star


Act of God





How Do You Measure a Year?




Love, Dad

Paper Thin

Kickstart My Heart

Return to Sender

Skin & Bone


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